Updated at 11:59,19-05-2018

Volchanin: Liquidators of the Chernobyl accident should be the new heroes of Belarus

Klim Haletsky, UDF.BY

On Tuesday in Ukraine at the Verkhovna Rada building a rally was held, attended by representatives of Chernobyl and Afghan organizations. Protesters tried to break into the parliament building to prevent adoption of the law on the abolition of benefits to liquidators of the Chernobyl accident.

Several years ago, similar amendments were introduced in the Belarusian legislation. However, the Belarusian liquidators accepted them almost in silence.

UDF.BY asked the head of the public association Chernobyl - Belarus Union Aleksandr Volchanin to comment the situation in Ukraine and to describe the life and problems of Chernobyl victims in Belarus.

- Aleksandr, do you support the demands and actions of Chernobyl victims in Ukraine?

- Of course, I do. If they now concede a certain amount of social security, then eventually they will lose it all, as it has happened in Belarus.

- That is, you consider reasonable the attempt to seize the Verkhovna Rada?

- I do not support the armed seizure of Rada, but firstly they met and talked peacefully with the government. But they were not heard. Let the deputies and the government now think how to solve the issue peacefully. Ukrainians have explosive mentality, and the authorities must consider this, when at first they give promises and then violate them.

- In Belarus there are also many Chernobyl victims and Afghans, and social protection problems are not less than in Ukraine. Why don't we have these protests?

- We do not have "hot" heads who are able to organize something like this. Maybe it's good, because 10 years of negotiations are better than one year of a war. But everything has a limit. If the government and parliament will delay the granting of additional guarantees to participants of liquidation, Chernobyl victims won't be silent.

- What are the specific social guarantees, Belarusian Chernobyl victims need most of all?

- First is the retirement 5 years earlier. Without any preconditions. Because today there is possibility to retire at age 55 only if one has the disability group. I believe, this will lead to corruption and unnecessary red tape. I think, the participants of liquidation have performed their duties, and the state is obliged to help them. In Ukraine and Russia the participants of liquidation retire 10 years earlier! Second, we demand the government to provide the sanatorium-and-spa treatment at least once every 3 years. In Russia there is an opportunity to rest once a year. Third, we proposed to award medals to the accident liquidators. It has been done long ago in Kazakhstan and Russia. Today some are rewarded, but some are not. This is unfair.

- It turns out that in Belarus Chernobyl victims have much less guarantees than in Russia and Ukraine?
- It is. Now in Belarus the veterans of the Great Patriotic War are less and less, according to the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection in 4 years they won't be at all. Only Afghans and Chernobyl victims will remain. They need help! Liquidators of the Chernobyl accident should be the new heroes of Belarus. We have 2000 written applications for membership in the Chernobyl-Belarus Union. Not so much for the state.

- How do you generally estimate the social security of Belarusian Chernobyl victims?

- We have an extremely low security. First of all, because there is no dialogue, negotiations with the authorities. In November will be the meeting of the Supreme Council of the Union State, where I propose to unify the legislation on social protection of the liquidation's participants. A few days ago President awarded Borodin the medal of the Fatherland III degree. And what Borodin did? So many times we addressed him to harmonize the legislation for Chernobyl victims, and nothing was done. I enlisted the support of the heads of Chernobyl unions in Russia and Kazakhstan, and I will promote the idea of ​​unification already in the Customs Union.

- How do Chernobyl victims live in the situation of hyperinflation and worsening of the economy?

- As of today the liquidators of the Chernobyl accident have only one right - the right for privileged admission to a university. The youngest liquidator of the Chernobyl accident is probably me. But I'm 50 years old and finished studies long ago. There are no other rights. Despite the crisis it is necessary to solve the problems of pension and medical support, and when we become richer we will address other issues. But the officials do nothing. I would like to remind them, that for a day of the liquidation of the Chernobyl accident a man got more x-ray irradiation, than the one worked at nuclear power plant the whole life.